Little research has been undertaken to examine the empirical basis of commonly applied methods of posttrauma intervention. We propose that Pennebaker's work on structured disclosure of trauma provides a suitable analogue to explore questions of interest. The present study asks whether avoidance coping is likely to interfere with abbreviated disclosure of traumatic experiences. Subjects were 118 college students randomly allocated to either a one-session or four-session written trauma-disclosure condition. At 2 months postdisclosure, subjects with high avoidance coping within the one-session condition exhibited significantly more trauma-specific and physical symptoms than all other subjects. Avoidance coping significantly predicted trauma-specific symptoms at 2 months. These findings suggest that single session traumatic disclosure may not be useful for individuals with an avoidance style of coping.
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